Bob died of a massive heart attack. The funeral director bathed him, brushed back his hair, touched up his face and dressed him up in a finely cut suit and Gucci shoes. Bob was ready to face the world one last time. But Bob is as dead as a door nail. And if he were left out any longer, rigor mortis would kick in and he would rot and stink. Sadly, the suit and the shoes will not help (Sorry, Gucci).
Now let me tell you that Bob is actually an ad, a TVC or a direct mailer. And the soul is an idea. Without the soul, no matter what it wears, it will stink and get buried in the graveyard of sameness.
Such is the power of an idea. You can cloak its absence with gimmicks, execution style, and with a litany of rationales. But let’s not kid ourselves – it’s dead.
So why is it so difficult to instil ideas? Believe you me, it’s not rocket science to come up with one. It takes the same amount of time to do a ‘crappy’ ad as it does to do something that’s memorable and stands out. You hunt for images and fonts. You spend hours trying different backgrounds. What’s the point in flogging a dead horse?
If a client’s aversion to ideas is what’s stopping you from infusing an idea into your every day work then you need to understand the true meaning of an idea.
An idea is not a bizarre, abstract and cryptic puzzle that you pride yourself in while everyone around you doesn’t get it. If that’s your definition of an idea then you are in the wrong profession. Maybe you should paint. There’s a huge market for abstract art – people don’t understand it but pay a king’s ransom to own it.
The ideas that I am talking about are simple truths born out of insights. It’s the originality and power of how it is presented.
It’s what happens when we shed all the frills that adorn our egos and start looking at consumers as real people. We tell stories, we make them laugh, cry, sing, question the status quo.
When your core idea is steeped in the essence of the brand, chances are the client wouldn’t reject it. But you cannot arrive at path-breaking ideas if you haven’t understood the brief. Don’t just read it. Question it. Believe in it. A brief is like a stereogram, if you look at it long and hard you will see an idea taking shape. And the more you immerse yourself in it, the clearer it will get. Look for gold nuggets. Push for insights. Find the many ways in which the product can enrich lives then dramatise them.
Breathe life into your work and it will live in people’s minds.
And, if you do it with all your heart, become immortal in a hall of fame…
The client was cool. The brand was amazing.
We saw an opportunity and got excited.
We cracked the idea and felt good about it.
We presented the full plan with enthusiasm.
We sold it really well.
Client liked it. It was a good route.
We killed it the next morning.
What happened overnight?
It just happened that the client liked it. It was a good route.
He didn’t question or challenge anything.
He smiled, satisfied, as if we read his mind.
He was too comfortable.
He could easily link the idea to what his product stands for.
He could surely see the sales potential.
Was this what we were really looking for? A happy & comfortable client?
Was this the ultimate idea that would connect with people.
Was this the next big one that would blow your mind away.
Our idea was good and the client liked it.
With a tiny ‘i’, a lower case ‘g’ and a boring little ‘l’.
There are 3 types of Great Ideas:
- The ‘how come we didn’t think about it’ ones.
- The ‘I wish we thought about it first’ ones.
- The ‘fuck! These guys must be on something’ ones.
Being in the presence of greatness leaves you unsettled, a tad uncomfortable, speechless for a few seconds,
sometimes for minutes….
It leaves you with a bit of discomfort, like when you are face to face with an unexpectedly gorgeous woman.
A great idea happens when your instinct tells you yes, but you’re not too sure…it takes a bit of time, then it overwhelms you.
The more open-minded, risk taker, experienced you are, the quicker the gap between discomfort & excitement narrows.
Good ideas sink immediately into your mind
Great ideas play with it at first. Then they blow it away.
It is simple. A great idea is one that goes beyond your comfort zone.
It takes you places you’ve never been. It defies the usual, the norm, the mundane.
It defies the brief. And takes it to a better place.
The reason we killed our first idea, was because it was approved on the spot.
It didn’t leave our client with a bit of discomfort. It was too safe and good.
We usually don’t settle for that, especially when we see the opportunity and when the client is up for it.
So next time your client smiles but tells you he needs some time to absorb & assimilate the work he just saw,
rest assured that you did a great job.
Like other sectors, Banks have always been boosting and incorporating new high-tech systems to make banking easier for consumers and to enable their transition. Here are some developing technology and design changes that are shaping today’s transition in the Banking Sector.
1. BANK BRANCHES.
The bricks-and-mortar locations where banks traditionally conduct business in person with their customers are going through a big period of transformation.
Banks are closing branches, relocating branches, shrinking the square footage of branches and moving branches into shopping-center spaces to be closer to their consumer. They’re also changing the nature of services that banks offer customers at branches.
Transactions, which have been the backbone of branches, are migrating out of the branch and into other channels – Mobile apps, online, ATMs and other technology influences are taking the transactions out of the branch itself. “Intelligent ATMs” offer more transaction services or video screens that can connect customers to live tellers at call centers.
2. UNIVERSAL BANKERS
As transactions move out of branches, tellers must become less transaction-oriented and more focused on sales of bank products and services.
Even their job titles have changed from teller to personal banker, and now, universal banker. This new position describes branch employees who not only process transactions but also pitch products and services to customers through cross-selling and up-selling.
3. MOBILE APPS
Early on, banks experimented with mobile, website-based banking services. But the trend today is toward mobile banking apps designed to deliver banking services via a smartphone.
Most banking apps allow customers to check account balances, review transactions, transfer funds from one account to another within the bank and pay bills within the bank or externally.
The big unknown is the extent to which mobile banking apps also will allow customers to complete transactions that are harder to authenticate remotely.
The risk of identity theft creates the incentive for consumers to take responsibility for the safety and security of their personal financial information. Whether that means a password-protected cellphone or one with virus protection, consumers have to be smart users of technology.
Banks are doing their part, too. One trend is stricter authentication systems that require more than a simple username and uncomplicated password to access a bank account.
But banks today don’t stop with authentication. Many are taking “a layered approach” that begins with authentication and adds plenty of other security systems.
“It’s like securing a house, you want strong locks, but you shouldn’t stop at the locks.”
5. CARD CHIPS
Transaction security, in particular, will continue to be a challenge.
The magnetic strip, or “mag stripe,” found on the back of most debit cards and credit cards is old technology. The new tech, already widely used in Europe, involves a so-called EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) chip, which is much more secure than a mag stripe. The EMV chip produces unique coding for each transaction and transfers some of the liability for fraudulent transactions from banks to retailers.
Some past data breaches (for example target in the U.S) may have been prevented by having more robust card technology.
“I think we could see some drastic changes in the way we bank and the way the card is used”
6. PAYMENT TECHNOLOGIES TARGET CASH
Despite the ubiquity of plastic payment options, consumers still use cash and coin to pay for plenty of goods and services, particularly when small dollar amounts are involved. And much of that cash and coin passes through bank accounts at some point or another.
That could change as new payment technologies, like smartphone wallets and virtual currencies, make a run at displacing the cash and coin.
Banks offer some of these technologies, but many other nonbank companies also do it. That could mean some stiff competition in cash-replacement, technology-based services.
Top tips for writing great briefs:
1) Don’t over think things.
2) Release yourself from the tyranny of conscious thought
3) Express everything in a simple yet interesting way
4) Something that allows people to ‘feel’ not ‘be told’
5) Turn functional into exciting
6) Ignore details and distractions and focus on clarity
7) Briefs that are exciting, infectious and ‘bursting with possible’
8) A proposition that opens doors rather than creates small boxes
The reason I mention this is because recently I came across a quote that seemed to explain why these 2 subjects are inherently linked:
You see the problem I have is that I often think too much about something.
OK, that’s wrong, we should never undermine the ability to think something through with rigour and purpose … it’s just that sometimes, in my focused state [I know, amazing eh!] I find it almost impossible to express all that I’ve learnt and had to consider in a simple – yet interesting – way.
And that’s where music helps and why that quote is so good.
You see once I’ve worked out the context of what I’m trying to convey, I basically look for songs that have that theme in their title and then just listen to them.
I know that sounds utterly ridiculous, but you’d be surprised how often…
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This talk is interesting not only from a nutrition & health perspective (it might lead to a debunking of some long held beliefs about obesity & diabetes) but because of the scientific thought process behind it which we could learn from. It shows a willingness to challenge the pre-accepted hypothesis and to develop empathy with a situation rather than just passing quick judgement.
It is a demonstration of open minds, courage to throw out yesterday’s hypothesis, and a recognition that scientific truth isn’t final but constantly evolving.
So how can we learn from this for our own industry? For me there are two points:
First, although advertising is not a science but we should try to make it so – for example we search for an insight just like researchers looking for Cholinesterase inhibitors treating Alzheimers. The difference is that we shouldn’t debate, procrastinate and pontificate over it but instead invest in a true process of discovery.
Second, even when we do uncover an amazing insight, the enchantment of great advertising is not actually the insight itself but about taking a straight forward insight and turning it into something amazing.
The point is that ultimately advertising is an entertainment / creative & social industry. Maybe we shouldn’t be over-thinking creativity and searching for a holy grail, and instead just letting go of our inhibitions and enjoying ourselves (just like when we watch something that engages us). Let’s be honest with ourselves – these days whether a campaign for a noble humanitarian cause or the next big Soda campaign, the life span of an idea is a few days / weeks with a # before something else takes its place. So let’s be nimble, let’s be flexible, let’s search for entertaining ideas rather than unequivocal truths because there are very few unequivocal truths in the world, but many points of connection.
I’d like to leave you with this message from Joi Ito. If innovation has been broken down and democratized, then it’s right for advertising to be also broken down and democratised. The future is about not getting bogged down in words and statements and more about quick prototyping, experimenting, learning to trust the team and building on each others ideas. This doesn’t take the responsibility off strategic rigour, but it recognises that advertising just like Science and Innovation is about experimenting, coming up with quick iterations, building and breaking hypothesis and then getting to the point where we can make a creative leap to something fresh yet useful.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.